Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Wulff

Sadler's?

Recommended Posts

I have noticed that several members posting on this site refer to Sadler's Wells theatre in its shortened form as" Sadler's". This is a recent departure from the long established tradition of "The Wells".

 

When Michael Sadler built his theatre on this site at the end of the 17th Century it was found to contain a number of wells constructed by the monks of nearby Clerkenwell Abbey. The water from these wells was thought to have therapeutic properties, and so Mr Sadler decided to add to the attraction of his venture by not only offering his patrons theatrical entertainment but possible cures for their ailments by "taking the waters".

 

Sadler has long gone and his theatre has had several subsequent owners , but the wells remain. even though their waters are no longer considered therapeutic. There is one in the basement of the present theatre under a plate glass cover, and I understand that there are several more under the former Metropolitan Water Board building opposite the theatre,

 

When Pinero wrote his play "Trelawny of the Wells" the "Wells" theatre of the title although not specifically "Sadler's Wells" was a thinly disguised version which contemporary audiences would have recognised.

 

When Lilian Baylis, already owner of the Old Vic, acquired Sadler's Wells the companies that performed in the two theatres adopted the title of "Vic Wells" and not "Vic Sadler's", and the support association was, and still is the Vic Wells Association.

 

I would therefore respectfully suggest that we continue to maintain the long established usage of "The Wells" when referring to Mr Sadler's theatre. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Like 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm perfectly happy to call the old theatre The Wells, but the new one has nothing to do with it apart from location, hence the new name :) 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for that fascinating and informative post! 

I assume the oldies among us will always call it "The Wells" if shortening the name but times do change and I'm assuming it's younger people who are shortening it to "Sadlers" .....which actually does sound quite affectionate! 

In private speech or informal "talk" it probably doesn't matter that much I think but perhaps in more formal sort of writing calling it  "the Wells" might be more appropriate. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I personally never shorten it anyway (and have no affection for the new theatre!), but have often seen and heard it referred to as 'The Wells' in the past, and I do hold that name in great affection. Thanks for the very interesting post. I must try to remember the long history of the theatre when I'm there, instead of being annoyed by the new(ish) building.

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It would be a pity if the use of 'the Wells' was lost - it chimes with 'the Garden' and 'the Coli' - old London theatrical traditions are easily lost and never regained!

 

Re. the Wells itself -  it is not ALL new: if you look in the auditorium, anything painted red (i.e. the balcony structure etc) is from the old theatre.

Re. the water well - the glass covered 'well' is, I am reliably informed, a fake, but a real well under the theatre does still produce water which is pumped out into London's ring main.  it it weren't the lower level would be under water!

  • Like 6

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you want to find out more about the history of this particular theatre, I'd recommend "The Pantomime Life of Joseph Grimaldi" by Andrew McConnell Stott.  Life in the early 19th century theatre - triumph, comedy, love, tragedy. It's a very well written biography, a compelling read. 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, The Sitter In said:

It would be a pity if the use of 'the Wells' was lost - it chimes with 'the Garden' and 'the Coli' - old London theatrical traditions are easily lost and never regained!

 

Re. the Wells itself -  it is not ALL new: if you look in the auditorium, anything painted red (i.e. the balcony structure etc) is from the old theatre.

Re. the water well - the glass covered 'well' is, I am reliably informed, a fake, but a real well under the theatre does still produce water which is pumped out into London's ring main.  it it weren't the lower level would be under water!

 

I didn't realise there was anything painted red in the auditorium - all looks grey to me. I must look more carefully next time. (Or maybe the red isn't visible from the Second Circle.)

 

I am however the proud possessor of a large yellow plaque with the words (in blue) on it saying 'THE JOHN CRANKO STUDIO' and a big direction arrow pointing diagonally upwards. I bought it (quite cheaply!) in a memorabilia sale they had when the previous theatre closed. I've had it up in the hallway of whatever flat I've been living in since then, with the arrow pointing up into a notional ballet studio in the loft/sky. So a little bit of the previous theatre survives here too!

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 hours ago, alison said:

I'm perfectly happy to call the old theatre The Wells, but the new one has nothing to do with it apart from location, hence the new name :) 

 

I think it is true to say that several theatres have been built or rebuilt on the site, and the "old" theatre was far from being "antique". So at what point in time would a new short name be appropriate seeing  that the full name has not changed over the centuries? Now, if a theatre on the site was no longer called Sadler's Wells then that would be the time to dump tradition.

 

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Language is dynamic (cf the Canutian efforts of the Académie Française to resist language change..) - if most people call it Sadler's then one small pocket of people making a conscious effort not to isn't going to change things.  Personally I've never heard 'The Wells'.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 minutes ago, Quintus said:

Language is dynamic (cf the Canutian efforts of the Académie Française to resist language change..) - if most people call it Sadler's then one small pocket of people making a conscious effort not to isn't going to change things.  Personally I've never heard 'The Wells'.

 

Language is dynamic, but its usage can also be manipulated. I've never actually heard it called 'Sadler's except in a few posts on this forum. But I also haven't heard the new theatre being referred to as 'The Wells' either.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Those of us who are old enough will also recall a certain children's ballet series by Lorna Hill with titles like No Castanets at the Wells and Jane Leaves the Wells - references to the old shortened name for Sadler Wells.

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And of course when Pinero in 1898 entiled his comic play Trelawney of the Wells, eveyone recognised the thinly disguised  reference to the Sadlers Wells Theatre - though since that play deals with changing fashions in the theatre I'm not sure where that leaves us!

Edited by David
spelling!
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Odyssey said:

Those of us who are old enough will also recall a certain children's ballet series by Lorna Hill with titles like No Castanets at the Wells and Jane Leaves the Wells - references to the old shortened name for Sadler Wells.

 

Pedantic, but don't the books refer to the school rather than the theatre?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Odyssey said:

Those of us who are old enough will also recall a certain children's ballet series by Lorna Hill with titles like No Castanets at the Wells and Jane Leaves the Wells - references to the old shortened name for Sadler Wells.

 

That's how I know of it being called The Wells. Icollect early-mid 20th century girls' books & quite a lot of my limited knowledge of ballet comes from that, Lorna HIll's other ballet series, & Mabel Esther Allen/Jean Estoril's various ballet books. I was somewhat disappointed to find that some of the ballets described are no longer in the rep, as I'd be interested in seeing them.

Edited by Dawnstar
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, bangorballetboy said:

 

Pedantic, but don't the books refer to the school rather than the theatre?

Yes you are right although I think it may refer to the theatre as well.  Sadly I haven’t the books to be able to check.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a full set of the books (collected since childhood) and have always taken it to refer to upper school and company. In the later titles the theatre could be Covent Garden, but of course the company was still called Sadlers Wells even after the ROH became its home. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...